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Everything You Need to Know: Ravens at Panthers

102718_GamePreview

Basics

Kickoff: 1 p.m., Bank of America Stadium
TV: Channel 13, WJZ (Baltimore) CBS crew (Greg Gumbel, Bruce Arians, Trent Green, Melanie Collins)
Radio: WBAL (1090 AM) and 98Rock (97.9 FM)
Jersey color: White

Stakes

The Ravens (4-3) want to avoid losing two straight, coming off a heartbreaking 24-23 home defeat against New Orleans. A victory would put the Ravens on pace for a 10-win season, something they haven’t done since 2014, the last time they made the playoffs. A loss would drop the Ravens to .500 midway through the season.

History

Carolina holds a 3-2 edge in the all-time series, but the Ravens have won the last two. They last met in 2014 when Baltimore dominated Carolina, 38-14, at M&T Bank Stadium. It was an emotional game for former Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., playing his first game against the Panthers after 10 seasons in Carolina. Smith caught two touchdown passes from Joe Flacco, who threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns. In the Ravens’ last trip to Carolina, the Ravens had two pick-sixes (Ed Reed lateral to Dawan Landy and Ray Lewis) in a 37-13 victory.

Key Storylines

Can the Ravens offense avoid becoming one-dimensional against the Panthers?

Carolina held the Philadelphia Eagles to 58 yards rushing in Week 7. The Ravens have not run the ball consistently all season and the Panthers’ defense is building momentum. Flacco may be forced to throws at least 40 times.

Carolina’s offense can be most dangerous when it goes no-huddle.

The Panthers were struggling in Philadelphia and trailed 17-0 when they switched to a no-huddle offense. From that point, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton got hot and rallied the Panthers to a 21-17 victory. Panthers coach Ron Rivera says he doesn’t want the Panthers to become too dependent on the no-huddle. But the Ravens must be aware that when the Panthers go no-huddle, Newton is often at his best.

Can the Ravens become the first road team to win at Carolina?

The Panthers are 3-0 at home, but the Ravens have already won at Pittsburgh and Tennessee. Getting their third road win of the season would be a nice way for the Ravens to recover from the New Orleans loss.

Key Matchups

Ravens defense vs. Carolina rushing attack

The Ravens have the league’s No. 1-ranked defense, but it will be hard-pressed to keep the Panthers from running. It’s not just Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (4.8 yards per carry) who makes the running game go. Newton leads all NFL quarterbacks with 257 yards rushing.

Ravens wide receivers vs. Panthers secondary

Expect Flacco to take shots downfield to John Brown, who is averaging 19.9 yards per catch. The Panthers are ranked just 17th overall in pass defense, so there could be opportunities for Brown to make plays. However, Flacco must be careful throwing in the direction of Panthers rookie cornerback Donte Jackson, who has three interceptions.

Ravens offensive line vs. Panthers defensive line

Recent injuries have put the Ravens offensive line in flux. Right tackle James Hurst (back) is out, left guard Alex Lewis (neck) is doubtful, and backup left guard Bradley Bozeman (calf) is questionable. The Panthers are stingy against the run, and defensive end Julius Peppers has had a strip sack in each of his last two games. The Ravens’ offensive line cannot consistently lose battles up front.

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